This article is about the US territories or Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands in the Caribbean. It's not about the British Virgin Islands where different providers operate. It needs to be read in conjunction with the base article about the United States as most major operators from mainland operate here too and US rules apply.
Three carriers from the US provide mobile services in Puerto Rico:
- AT&T USA
- T-Mobile USA (soon Liberty)
- Sprint (Boost, previously Open Mobile)
Additionally, there is one local carrier serving Puerto Rico only:
- Claro Puerto Rico
On the US Virgin Islands there are four networks available:
- AT&T USA (soon Liberty)
- Sprint USA
- Viya (local carrier, formerly Choice Wireless)
- T-Mobile USA
Verizon doesn't have native coverage in the Caribbean. In Puerto Rico it only roamed on Open Mobile (now Sprint) after Claro shut down its CDMA network in 2014, but after signing a new 4G/LTE roaming agreement it now roams on both. On the US Virgin Islands it roams on Viya, AT&T and Sprint. Speeds can be slow at times.
For the US operators from the mainland check our United States site for frequencies and compatibility. Claro in Puerto Rico is a GSM-based operator with 2G and 3G on 850 MHz and 1900 MHz and 4G/LTE on 700 MHz (B12) and 1700 MHz (B4). Sprint (Open Mobile), a CDMA-based operator, is not compatible with GSM phones in 2G and 3G, but has adopted 4G/LTE on 700 MHz (B13).
Coming from the US Edit
Coming from the mainland of the US, you don't need a new SIM card or plan for these territories as your US operator generally already covers it at domestic US rates. So you can just bring it along and use it.
One exception is Verizon Prepaid, which requires the purchase of a $5 per 24 hours use TravelPass to make use of an existing plan while in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands (this is the same daily rate charged for a TravelPass for Mexico and Canada, but less than the $10 charged for all other countries). The TravelPass is limited to 500 MB of high-speed data per day.
US providers can be topped up like in the 50 states and their refill cards are sold in Puerto Rico too.
This page focuses on the two local networks as the US carriers are already covered in by the United States articles. In Puerto Rico, US carriers offer the same product portfolio like on the mainland in addition to local promotions sometimes. All US providers regard their coverage in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands as a domestic network where regular and not international rates for roaming apply.
As Claro is much more accessible for GSM-based users, it will be displayed in detail, while Open Mobile and its mobile prepaid brand Ola is only shown for its 4G/LTE capabilities and as a roaming network for Verizon users.
Update 2017 Edit
Note that in September 2017, two devastating hurricanes called Irma and Maria wrecked the islands with severe impacts to the whole infrastructure, the power grid as well as the cellular phone system. US telecom regulator, the FCC confirmed that on the US Virgin Islands, 61% of cell sites were down, and in Puerto Rico up to 93%. The FCC has now granted US$ 77 million to restore telecommunications which will require several months and last until 2018.
AT&T USA (soon to be Liberty) Edit
see this chapter for details
AT&T is the largest carrier in Puerto Rico and provides the most coverage in the US Virgin Islands, yet there are a few blank spots so check their coverage map to see what service is like in areas you plan to visit and stay in.
In 2019 AT&T sold its operations in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands to Liberty Latinamerica. So a rebrand to Liberty may be imminent.
T-Mobile USA Edit
see this chapter for details
Note that some communities in Puerto Rico are only covered by T-Mobile's "Extended Range" coverage on 600 MHz (B71) for 4G/LTE which only few devices support so far.
Coverage on the US Virgin Islands used to be EDGE supplemented by 3G roaming on Viya until 2018 when T-Mobile launched LTE on 1700 MHz (B4, B66) and 600 MHz (B71). Coverage is mostly native on St. Thomas while service on St. John and St. Croix is often supplemented by LTE roaming on Viya.
Claro in Puerto Rico is owned by Mexican telecom carrier América Móvil. In the US mainland, they are only present via MVNOs using other networks, in Puerto Rico they have their own network. Verizon sold its shares of Telecomunicaciones de Puerto Rico (TELPRI) to América Móvil in 2006. By 2013, all of their business in Puerto Rico was rebranded to their Claro brand. Claro is second out of the five operators in the Puerto Rican market with a quarter of all users trailing only AT&T with roughly 1/3.
As of 2014, the former Verizon CDMA network has been shut down with Claro now using GSM-based technology exclusively. 2G/GSM and 3G/UMTS are on US frequencies of 850 MHz and 1900 MHz. 4G/LTE was started in 2012 and covers all of the island(s). In some centers it uses LTE-A with speeds up to 100 Mbps by aggregating 700 MHz (B12) and 1700 MHz (B4) bands for 4G/LTE: 3G/4G coverage map.
All their voice plans offer roaming on GSM networks in the US mainland, preferably T-Mobile, without surcharges for domestic rates. All their prepaid plans include 4G/LTE use without surcharges.
Claro offers a broad variety of 'prepago' (= prepaid) or "sin contrato" (= without contract) plans:
- prepaid plans without a monthly base rate where unlike in the US data packages can be added
- prepaid plans with a monthly base combo package with data like in the US
- prepaid mobile broadband (called Banda Ancha) data plans without voice for tablets and routers.
Claro doesn't sell you SIM cards officially. You have to bring your own device (called BYOP or BYOD) or buy a new one and 'activate' it on the Claro network. This dates back to old CDMA days, when phones needed to be activated on their network. Now they simply check if your phone is capable and unlocked and put in a new SIM card for 'activation'. They might charge a few $ for this 'service' in their stores and you have to choose your plan.
Top-ups are available all over by refill cards of $ 10, 15, 20 or 30 or electronic top-ups. They don't follow US rules where the recharge stays valid as long as your plan, but have (like in Latinamerica) a very limited validity depending on reloaded amount of 15 to 60 days.
Check balance and validity by entering *611#.
Por minutos Edit
Por minutos or by minutes is their default plan. Unlike US plans, it doesn't have a base rate, but all consumption is debited with a flat 10¢ per minute or SMS. Any customer receives $2.50 for activation and another $2.50 if you top-up at least $10 in the first three months. For data you need to add one of these packages:
|150 MB||7 days||$ 9.99||DATA150|
|300 MB||14 days||$ 14.99||DATA300|
|1 GB||30 days||$ 19.99||DATA 1|
|3 GB||30 days||$ 24.99||DATA 3|
|5 GB||30 days||$ 34.99||DATA 5|
Data allowance is valid in Puerto Rico and in roaming all over the US mainland too. For activation text code to 2527.
Prepaid combo plans - Planes nacionales Edit
Their prepaid combo plans all have an included voicetime, SMS and data valid for one month. Planes nacionales - national plans contain unlimited PR calls, unlimited SMS to PR, USA and most internatl. countries, 100 long-distance minutes, unlimited calls to the US and US roaming calls and a data quota which is hard-capped and valid in PR and the US:
- 500 MB: $ 20
- 5 GB: $ 30
- 10 GB: $ 40
- 15 GB: $ 50
- unlimited: $ 60
Plan hast to be activated online, in the store or over the phone. Check data balance by *125#. The same plans can be linked to a credit card for auto-pay. They are called 'sin contrato' = without contract. They have the same rate, but need to be suspended at the end which can happen after every month.
Data-only SIMs Edit
Their data-only plans otherwise called Mobile Broadband plans or Banda Ancha are intended for tablets and modems. They don't have voice, but SMS. Here too data are valid in PR and all over the US in roaming, valid for 30 days:
- 300 MB: $ 9.99
- 1 GB: $ 14.99
- 3 GB: $ 29.99
- 5 GB: $ 39.99
- 10 GB: $ 59.99
- 15 GB: $ 69.99 (only on 4G/LTE)
- 20 GB: $ 79.99 (only on 4G/LTE)
- 30 GB: $ 99.99 (only on 4G/LTE)
Users with a 3G and 4G device can add additional packages by SMS code to 2527 valid for the rest of the running time of the monthly base plan:
- 250 MB: $ 4.99 - activation: ADD250
- 1 GB: $ 9.99 - activation: ADD1GB
- 3 GB: $ 19.99 - activation: ADD3GB
- 5 GB: $ 24.99 - activation: ADD5GB
Verizon roaming Edit
A new 4G/LTE agreement was signed a few years after Claro shut down CDMA. Claro is now Verizon's primary roaming partner on the island.
More info Edit
- APN: internet.claropr.com // if LTE doesn't work, use: LTE.claropr.com
- Website in Spanish: http://www.claropr.com
Sprint (Boost, formerly Open Mobile) Edit
Open Mobile was the smallest network operator in Puerto Rico. The company was established in 2007 and came to an end in 2017 when Open Mobile and US carrier Sprint announced a joint venture. The takeover was approved in September 2017, with Sprint becoming the majority shareholder. In summer of 2018 all of the Open Mobile stores were changed to Boost Mobile Stores.
Their network is based on CDMA and EVDO for 3G which are not compatible to GSM networks. For 4G they use LTE on 700 MHz (B13) that can be compatible in addition to the slow phase-in of Sprint's mainland network bands, but as of now Sprint's restrictive access policy applies. They have a reasonable coverage on the island: coverage map.
For compatibility and plans check both Sprint and Boost on our US site.
Verizon roaming Edit
In 2014, Verizon Wireless signed a 2G/3G roaming agreement with Open Mobile to allow Verizon customers to use Open Mobile's network without charge. This agreement came when Claro shut down the former Verizon CDMA network in Puerto Rico in favour of GSM, UMTS and LTE. Their roaming agreement was later extended to 4G/LTE.
More info Edit
- APN for 4G/LTE: sp.openmobilepr.com
- Website: http://www.openmobilepr.com/
Viya (on the US Virgin Islands) Edit
Viya, the US Virgin Islands-based telecoms operator was formed via the merger of Innovative Telephone and Choice Wireless in April 2017. It has switched on its 4G/LTE network on the two largest islands Saint Croix and Saint Thomas and from December 2017 on St. Thomas (coverage maps). The new network supersedes the legacy 4G/LTE infrastructure previously operated by Choice Wireless. It now uses 2500 MHz (B41).
Their SIM cards are sold in their stores for an unknown activation charge. You can top-up your SIM in a store, over the phone or online by credit card.
Data feature packs Edit
Their Flex plans are paid in advance and don't lock you in a contract. They include unlimited local talk and text, tethering, international roaming for talk and text (not data) in Puerto Rico, the US and Canada and a data allowance in 4G/LTE for 30 days:
- 1 GB: $ 30
- 4 GB: $ 40
- 10 GB: $ 50
- 25 GB: $ 65
As usual in the US taxes are not included and if you sign up a credit card through auto-pay, $5 are taken off each plan. For up to 40 GB per month these packages can be added:
- social media (Facebook, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Twitter, Tango, Periscope, Tumblr and WeChat): $ 10
- music (Spotify, iTunes, Pandora, Sound Cloud, Google Play, Shazam and Tidal): $ 10
- video (Hulu, Netflix and YouTube): $ 15
Verizon roaming Edit
Customers can roam on Viya's 2G and 3G networks at no extra charge. There is no 4G/LTE roaming as of September 2019.
More info Edit
- APN is still unknown
- Website: https://viyavi.com